Host Sri Lanka will kick off the Twenty20 tournament with the game against Zimbabwe. Its just cricket and more cricket with no opening ceremony planned, no live concert or no fireworks. Both team, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe will be excited to take centrestage to play the first match of the tournament here in Hambantota.
Sri Lanka have been playing well and have been the runners-up in 2009 and reached the semi-finals in 2010 but didn’t win it. With everything on their mind they will now look to reverse things and will look to win the tournament at home.
A three-team group doesn’t give you a chance to loose-up as its a matter of every match and every win. Sri Lanka will take the ground as favorites against the minnows Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe haven’t gained much from the practice game as they lost both their games. First, Ireland beat them by 54 runs and then Bangladesh by 5 wickets. This is a clear indication of lack of cricket for Zimbabwe.
Sri Lanka on the other hand beat West Indies by 9 wickets but lost to India by 26 runs. They are favorites for the tournament but playing against minnows is always a crucial game. They got nothing to loose but can create problem for the former.
The home fans might see Tillakaratne Dilshan walking out to open batting with Dilshan Munaweera and the 18-year-old Akila Dananjaya sharing spin-bowling duties with Ajantha Mendis – offering both Munaweera and Dananjaya their international debuts. That means Jayawardene may bat at No. 3, followed by a solid middle order. The fast bowling department will, of course, be led by limited-overs specialist Lasith Malinga.
Zimbabwe may go into the match banking on experience than youthful flair. Hamilton Masakadza, Vusi Sibanda and Brendan Taylor offer quality at the top, but the middle order doesn’t have much to offer. Considering that, Craig Ervine and Stuart Matsikenyeri’s experience should keep them in the eleven. So the only choice Taylor may have to make is on the allrounder – between Elton Chigumbura and Malcolm Waller.
Prosper Utseya, Graeme Cremer and Ray Price are there to spin the bowl for Zimbabwe, but Taylor doesn’t expect much turn out of the Hambantota track. That means one of the three tweakers – most probably Cremer – will miss out.
So in all we are here for the exciting start of the tournment and the team that performs best should win the game.
Sri Lanka: 1 Dilshan Munaweera, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Mahela Jayawardene (c), 4 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 5 Lahiru Thirimanne, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Nuwan Kulasekara, 8 Thisara Perera, 9 Lasith Malinga, 10 Ajantha Mendis 11 Akila Dananjaya
Zimbabwe: 1 Hamilton Masakadza, 2 Vusi Sibanda, 3 Brendan Taylor (c/wk)), 4 Craig Ervine, 5 Stuart Matsikenyeri, 6 Elton Chigumbura/Malcolm Waller, 7 Prosper Utseya 8 Ray Price, 9 Richard Muzhange, 10 Kyle Jarvis, 11 Chris Mpofu